Lisbon's Aquarium/Oceanario de Lisboa

There's not a great deal to do with a Toddler at my parents if the sun's not out. So short of allowing her to play on the iPad all day, I had to think of something as there were not many toys or Cbeebies to distract her. So out came the Timeout Guide to Lisbon and the idea for a trip to Lisbon Aquarium was born.

We set off in the rain to an area of Lisbon known as Parque das Nacoes or Expo. The industrial wasteland that occupied this large area was completely transformed for Expo 98. And unlike many countries that have hosted Expo, the Portuguese, for once, have maintained and developed this landscape further. It is a vibrant and busy area filled with restaurants, concert halls, theatres, bars and a huge shopping centre called Vasco Da Gama. The Oceanario lies in the heart of it all, amongst offices and apartments. As it is a car free zone it's great for those with children who like to run around freely dotting in and out of the fountains and tunnels of water cascading around them.

Portuguese families like to stroll around on a Sunday in the sun whilst during the week it is a hive of activity with numerous businesses having moved their head office to the surrounding buildings. It's architecture still feels very modern, in stark contrast to the decaying aged buildings in the neighbouring old 'quartiers'. 

The Oceanario itself is a beautiful in the round building that reminded me a little of the Guggenheim in New York. A word of warning stairs are plentiful and steep so do head for the lifts. It is a huge building, apparently it's the second largest indoor Aquarium in the world. An enormous variety of sea life is available to see with each Ocean's residents represented. The gigantic tank which forms the central part of the building is truly mesmerising, we sat for a long time in front of this as if we were in a dream world. The Penguin room was a particular favourite of mine, I find these birds particularly endearing. 

These two were my favourites, having their little siesta oblivious to the crowds of people watching them.

It is a wonderful place to take children, Matilda was in awe throughout, fascinated by the enchanting marine life before her. Please do take the time to visit if you are in Lisbon, it's a great area to hang out in with spectacular views, great restaurants and the perfect place to take in some culture and to learn a little more about the deep sea world that surrounds us.